Dear Dr. Frankie:
I am a woman in my 40’s who just got out of a 7 year relationship with an alcoholic.
It took me 2 years to get myself back, well I met a beautiful woman we had a few dates and realized that we had everything in common (well except music) we can talk about anything and everything, we are both very out in our work and personal lives, we always talked, had a gentle touch in passing snuggled etc…. when we first met we were both looking for new jobs and within 3 months both found one. Then things changed, I am very happy in my job, but she on the other hand is not, she has always been a very confident, self-assured woman, but now her job has beat her down so much that she feels like she isn’t worth anything! She says that I am the best thing that has ever happened to her but she hasn’t been able to touch me in over a year not even a cuddle or to hold hands. (soooo not an exaggeration) anytime I want a kiss or a hug I have to initiate it. We have talked about it (‘till I am blue in the face) I am trying to be supportive but I am so lonely for her all I can do anymore is cry. This is not my first rodeo; I have never felt this deeply for anyone on my life and cannot imagine one without her in it. But I can’t keep feeling more and more like I am her sister.
Dear Tired in Texas,
It sounds like you love each other deeply, so I would do everything within my power to try and remedy the situation. Let’s jump into problem solving mode. It sounds like her unhappiness at her job has impacted her to such a degree that she’s tuned out and turned off. She may be depressed and lacking motivation and desire in her life, which will of course impact your relationship with her. To go a year without affection and touch, especially after you have repeatedly expressed your desire to receive more of her love, is incredibly emotionally damaging. At some point on the near horizon, you need to set a boundary and make some type of forward progress. This could mean one of several things. Certainly another conversation is in order, during which you may have to suggest a plan of action such as attending couples therapy or individual therapy. Plan a romantic weekend getaway where cell phones and tablets are left OFF. Get her away from work and perhaps the “old” her will emerge. Work is a significant stressor in life and it’s amazing how getting away can make one’s outlook on life cheerier. If the time ever feels right, consider taking her to a lighthearted, but informative, class at a Good Vibrations or other lesbian-friendly sex shop.
If none of these interventions rekindles your spark then unfortunately you may need to acknowledge the impasse. This might mean accepting that the attraction you once shared is no longer. Moving on with your life will certainly be painful, but that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain a friendship with healthy boundaries. I learned early in life that we are all responsible for our own happiness. That means you are responsible for getting your own needs met. We all deserve to give and receive love but you will have to be honest with yourself. It might be hard to see it now, but by making the tough decision you are actually making room for something more satisfying. At this point you’re in so deep with your current relationship, you can’t see what opportunities might lie ahead. Who knows what you’re missing out on by staying in an unloving relationship.